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in college vs at a college
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Posts: 20
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I am going to make up two sentences below.

(1) He will take a few accounting courses in college next year.

(2) He will take a few accounting courses
at a college next year.

I've heard from some people that if you say "in college" in (1), you are referring to the type of training you want. On the other hand, if you say "at a college" in (2), you are talking about the institution itself. What they say makes sense to me. Are they right about this? Please give me your opinion. Thanks a lot.
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Location: Santa Cruz, California, US
Posts: 655
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Ansonman,

To me, the difference is this:

(1) means that he is in regular attendance as a student, probably in pursuit of some degree or certification. In addition to his other coursework, he plans to take a few classes in accounting.

(2) means that he is not a regular student. There is a college where he is not enrolled that is offering accounting classes to the general public, and he is going to attend a few of those.
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Location: Argentina
Posts: 3616
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Hi, DocV,

I find the absence of an article in "in college" and the presence of one in "at a college" to be also related to that discussion we once held about "going to church/prison/school" (for purposes peculiar to those places) as opposed to going to the/a church/prison/school" (for special, non-routine purposes), don't you agree?
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Location: Santa Cruz, California, US
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Gustavo, these two discussions are indeed related. I had actually considered bringing up the fact that we could say "at college", without an article, in sentence (1), and in fact it would sound more natural than "in college", but would still retain the meaning of (1) rather than (2). Instead, I decided, for once, to keep my answer more simple.

http://thegrammarexchange.info...822956247#4822956247
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